My Dating Techniques in 1996

I had no confidence to get girls. Since the age of 12, the girls I most coveted would tell me I was ugly. I always tell my daughters if you want to succeed at something you have to lose at least 1000 times first. So if you want to get good at tennis, be prepared to lose thousands of times, study your losses, think about your weak spots, and then practice every day working on them.  If you want to get good at chess, lose 10,000 times and study only your losses. Your wins will tell you nothing.

I was rejected by women thousands of times. So I had to study. For me, finding a girlfriend, and then finding a wife (or two) was a full time job. I had nothing going for me. I looked too crazy, never had a great job (at first), and wasn’t really the best conversationalist (unless you liked comic books, chess, contemporary fiction, computer programming and that’s about it).

So I had to get better. I took a job at HBO. Cool job. Check! I was a computer programmer there but on my voicemail I said, “this is James Altucher, at HBO.” So nobody would have to know I was a computer programmer.

I moved into the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street. The hotel was made famous, in part, by the movie “Sid Killed Nancy” and  then later by the movie “I shot Andy Warhol”. Dylan Thomas died drunk in the lobby. Arthur C Clarke wrote “2001: A Space Oddysey” while living there. There was art on every wall because people often paid their rent with bad artwork (none of the artwork is that good, trust me).

(Sid and Nancy at the Chelsea Hotel)

The woman who lived in my room before me had neither artwork or money. Stanley Bard from downstairs once called up and said, “you’re two months late on the rent.” She said, “ok, I’ll be right down” and she made a running jump out the window and landed on the middle of 23rd Street. My room was on the 9th floor. They cleared out all of her belongings in less than a few hours. And I moved in. All of the walls, even in the bathroom, were painted black.  Cool place to live. Check!

Before a date I’d go to the same restaurant many times and made sure I tipped everyone. So all the waitresses would know me. And they’d laugh at my jokes. I was a bit pathetic. But when you’re on a date and all the pretty waitresses around you are taking care of you and laughing at your jokes then you seem a little special.

I got myself one thousand $2 bills. And I’d carry around these huge wads of 2 dollar bills. When I played chess in Washington Square Park we’d all gamble. Pretty soon the entire economy of Washington Square Park was being conducted in my personal stimulus of $2 bills. The $2 bills would spread from the chess tables to the hot dog stands to the drug dealers and prostitutes. Crackheads were buying hookers for $2 bills. Or vice versa.

(I love $2 bills)

So on a date, when it came to pay, I’d pull out this huge wad of money. First the shock value at seeing that thick a wad of money. Then the shock value of it being all two dollar bills. Who the hell was this guy with the two dollar bills?

Then I had to go. I always had to go. I had a job. I was doing this “3am”project for HBO. I’ll call you tomorrow. Because its 3 in the morning and I have things to do.

A date, for me, was performance art. Carefully planned in advance. Nothing was left to chance. The owner of the restaurant would come to my table and shake my hand: “its an honor to have you here.” A TV show would be mentioned. “I did the website for that show.” A famous actress would be discussed. “She’s my next door neighbor and there’s a line of drug addicts coming out of her door all day and night. “

Then the laughter of waitresses. Then, the $2 bills. Then… I have to go. Its getting late and its time for me to go.

I have to save the world.

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  • drummerboy

    because its all in the mind

  • Sooz

    a bit of $2 trivia:
    When Touchstone Picture was filming portions of “Dead Poets Society” at St.Andrews School, Middletown DE in 1988, the production crew were paid exclusively in $2 bills… to demonstrate the effect that production had on the local economy.

  • Good info: I’ll share this with my daughter. That way if any guy she’s dating tips with $2.00 bills…she’ll be on high alert.


    • very high alert. beware. I didn’t mature until I settled down with credit cards.

  • yeah, you know the rule: once you get the phone number, you leave the party.

  • thats funny, chris. i don’t think i’ve ever even seen canadian money.

    • Maxploztli

      The Canadian dollar is currently worth about 4-5% more than the US dollar. You’ll want to see as much of it as possible, given the US Debt situation. ;)

      Seriously though, I hope that the US people and politicians can solve the US Debt situation relatively rationally and without too much pain.

      • Amira

        Haha! As a Canadian who lived in the states for a long time I can totally relate… ;)

    • Amira

      Did you know Canadian money is actually called funny money? ;)

  • very true

  • would you also believe that 7 people over the past week arrived at this website because they searched “howard lindzon” on google.

    • Sooz



  • Karthik

    Hi James!

    Off topic.

    How many blog posts did you write in total in this blog? I don’t see any advertisements on this site, so I presume you are not doing this for money but to get your name out. (Even though you are a millionaire?)

    If you don’t mind, can you share your traffic info and why it spiked only recently?

    I want to create a blog just like yours. I don’t have the passion to write good quality articles on a daily basis. I want to outsource it. Let me know if you have any tips.

    Thanks for your time.

    • Traffic:
      – in past month: 447,000 visits. 855,000 pageviews

      one post: “reasons to never own a home” was 12% of those pageviews
      then: “reasons not to send your kids to college”

      I like those posts but htey don’t reflect my favorite posts (personal stories, better writing)
      but #3 is “what it feels like to be rich” which is one of my favorites. Again, this is all just the past 30 days.

      • But, to answer your question: why do you want to write a blog if you don’t have the passion to write good quality articles.

        Passion and honesty are the only reasons traffic to this blog has spiked.

        • Beat me to it. Who would want to read a passionless blog built solely to generate pageviews?

        • Karthik

          Thanks for the reply.

          Also can you let us know how many blog posts you wrote in total for this blog?

      • Steven L. Goff

        A big day for me on my blog site is 110 veiws….lol
        I am jealous James….I cant lie

      • James, is this hosted by StockTwits? (I know both are on SliceHost) Curious what size slice you are using to handle the traffic if it isn’t shared.

  • Kkchristy

    It means the Eagles smoked pot.

  • Anonymous

    Practicing by one’s self before jumping into the ring with those better is key, otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time.

  • Steven L. Goff

    She said, “ok, I’ll be right down” and she made a running jump out the window and landed on the middle of 23rd Street
    I laughed when I first read that…..would she be alive today if the landlord never called? Would you have been assigned a different room and never met Chubb Rock in elevator. …Who knows?….the butterfly effect

    • Yeah, my whole life changed because she killed herself. Sad but true.

  • I was totally broke in College (back when I was single) and had the most crappy 1989 Chevy Cavalier whose driver side window did not work. I never got so many girls as that 2 year spam, it was beautiful. Brings a tear to my eye to recall. Of course right at the end of College I met my current wife so I guess I cannot complain. Or was I just complaining….lol.

  • Stevegreenblatt

    James, you are one of a kind! I always enjoy reading your blog. Next time you are in the SF Bay Area I’d love to buy you a drink, or three.

  • Very funny post…you remind me of Rob downey jr in the 80s classic film 2The pick up artist”

  • Your life, as a Judd Apatow movie? But more sincere.

    • Only if I can get Michael Cera to play me. Judd Apatow is my favorite, ever since the Ben Stiller show, then Larry Sanders and Freaks & Geeks, and finally culminating in “Superbad”.

      • Shyanne

        I was just thinking that Michael Cera would be perfect to play you in a movie!  

  • I’m with you on: “A date, for me, was performance art. Carefully planned in advance. Nothing was left to chance. ”

    I debated writing a post about it, but didn’t for potential backlash lol, perhaps you have pushed me to man up.

    Short version:
    Never go out for dinner, too costly and high risk. If she’s awful, you need to be able to get out of there, ASAP. Always opt for the drinks date, here is the line to use: “I usually get stuck at work, let’s do drinks? how’s 9pm”. Basically all of my initial dates were in planned within proximity of my apartment in an attempt for an after hours rendezvous.

    There, I said it.
    *awaits backlash*

    • Ayesha Yaseen

      Sup market yo I’ve used
      that line Before
      Time waits for nobody ten minutes
      At sushi train and your face
      I am so sorry I gotta go

      I call it the meet and greet
      I like to keep things simple
      And sweet

      So I keep on moving
      Deep into the night
      I want this loser gone
      Take him out of my sight

      Yet as we exchange
      He mentions will I come to his

  • TripleB

    It’s just a metaphor for the decadence of 1970’s America.

  • dsd

    i think your site stats have gone up due to being linked to at this blog i (and many others) read every day.

    i enjoy your blog, good entertaining stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely brilliant. But the kicker is definitely $2 bill. Really? That is so awesome… I don’t even know where to begin. Brilliant…

    • Monica_417

      I agree! Such attention to detail…that would definitely get me interested. lol

  • Anonymous

    I gave my friends son a 2 dollar bill for his 12th birthday.
    He just went off to college and I went to a party for him.
    Those things have a way of sticking around.

  •  Every morning when the Aussie left for work he told me he’d be home just as soon as he was done saving the world. 

    The two dollar bills and contemporary fiction talks would have done me in. Computer programming impresses and confuses me in equal measure. 

  • Berl

    I used to do stuff like this.  I am 35 and could care less about the performance anymore, I just dont see the ROI

  • Mansal

    It’s like George Costanza. Going out on a high-note …showmanship.

    Everything I learned in life, I learned from Seinfeld

  • JJ

    what about your current dating techniques ? :)

  • The services start by helping customers build their profile, a practice
    already offered by several online dating sites. However, the service
    continues with picking out potential matches, the writer then sends
    introductory e-mails to the possible matches and continues messaging
    back and forth until they can confirm the date. Although the service was
    used at first mainly by men, this has changed with more ladies using
    this service as well.

  • Foobar

    I think you may have had Narcissitic Personality Disorder. It sounds like from your blog posts you are very smart and self reflective and have over come it but the traits and thought processes you describe seem very fitting. It’s not a bad thing — many of the worlds most successful people have had it!

  • Amira

    Funny! If I had a penny for everytime I heard “I have to go”… ;) A good movie if you haven’t seen it already is “Gia” with Angelina Jolie, it’s the story of the world’s first super model:
    One relevant quote Gia says: “I have to go… I have to go… where the fuck does everybody go when they have to go?” I wonder this myself… :)

  • Many of us know the rules of the game by heart, but still fail to follow them. 

    I like that James set up systems to prevent himself from talking too much, staying too long, blowing his cover — all this in advance of the actual date.

    This applies to running a business, too. A lot of people (including me) read entrepreneur blogs, etc, but still leave key execution moments open to emotion, choice, and chance.
    A good reminder that we should get busy coaching the restaurant staff — and other ‘invisible’ players that have an impact on our success rate — instead.

  • Christina

    Catfished meme! Dating world is tough I feel you!

  • Christina
  • Ducky7

    I have a professor who is also obsessed with $2 bills. He gives them for gifts and uses them religiously to pay tips at restaurants. Though he’s never said, i think he does it so that people remember him. I suspect you and he may have a similar temperament!

  • Chinedu Agomuo

    Talk about being a sore looser, I know what it could be like. But I’ve learned from my loses. Thanks James for this article, I enjoyed!